Last week, we released our first donor loyalty study. Thank you to everyone who participated!
One of the most shocking revelations was that only 29% of nonprofits have a lapsed donor program. That mistake presents a huge opportunity for other nonprofits.
If you do not want another organization to come in and take your lapsed donors, here are a few ideas for recapturing your donors.
It is important that the efforts expended on your lapsed donor program result in revenue. Make sure you have a clear goal for the program and identify exactly how much is needed to create a positive ROI for the program. If your program isn’t producing revenue then invest your time in something else.
Identify who to target. Past donors that are true givers (above $20 or more than one gift), strong volunteers, or well-known supporters are great targets. Don’t leave anyone out of your email ask, but make sure you select the most likely candidates for recapture for any direct mail programs.
Communicate your message with your lapsed donors clearly and specifically. Share with them:
- what you have been doing.
- the impact of your programs on the community.
- the results of your programs.
- what is going to happen if your organization goes away.
DON’T call lapsed donors LAPSED or ask them to come back…DO give them a reason to come back!!!
After assessing who to contact and what you will say, you need to determine how you plan to communicate with lapsed donors. Set up a monthly program that includes email, direct mail, and phone calls. You never know what the trigger for giving again will be or when it will come. In the early stages of a donor recapture program, it is critical that you test.
Test which variable has the strongest response, test the message that you are sending, and test the frequency of the messages themselves. Make adjustments often and continue to evaluate the program.
When you successfully recapture a donor, be sure to send a hand-written thank-you note. I also recommend that following the first gift. Also send a very short survey asking how you can improve. It might reveal why he/she left in the first place. It will allow you to improve for others and avoid the same mistakes of the past.
Take-away: Recapturing a donor is time-consuming and difficult. Invest in a strong program that makes your recapture program less critical, but keep in mind that saving a donor is less expensive than recruiting a new one.
Good luck with your lapsed donor program!